Emirates Airline Festival of Literature Q&A with Sarah Odedina

In March Sarah Odedina will be at the 6th Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. In today’s blog post Sarah answers some questions about publishing and the festival.

Previously posted on

Sarah Odedina new picWhat are you looking forward to when you visit Dubai and the LitFest?

I am very much looking forward to being able to listen to some of the world’s premier authors talk about their work. As a reader it is thrilling to hear an author you admire talk about their books and their writing.  As a publisher it is also thrilling to see so many ‘fans of reading’. There tends to be a lot of talk about how reading is a dying pastime and yet a literary festival thronging with avid readers, delighted to be listening to authors, is a reassurance that what we are doing does still have a vital and important role.

logoWhat got you interested in publishing?

I have always loved stories. I find that I become very transported by a good story and even as a child I was mesmerised by the fact that someone, somewhere, had sat down with an idea and transformed that in to a book. I suppose being a publisher is a way of enjoying that pleasure even further in that I have become part of the process of creating the stories.  It is a privileged role and one that I really relish.

Can you tell us about your experience publishing books?

I worked for a long time as a rights person in publishing before I moved to being a publisher.  The professional journey was an important one as starting in a commercial role meant that I have never ever forgotten how important it is to sell books.  When I first moved in to editorial and first started working more closely with authors on making books I felt an immense surge of excitement, and still feel that excitement.  It seemed to me that I had got to the bit of the business that was most important.  The authors work is the furnace that drives the train so to speak.  When I get finished copies of any book I have worked on I feel that I am in receipt of a treasure.  Something to be so proud of and excited by. Then when I see the books by our authors in shops I know that that treasured object with its precious pages of imagination will also be treasured by other people – by strangers – and somehow we will all be linked because we have all read and (hopefully) enjoyed that story.  It is a sort of alchemy.

41K7TYBGF4LWho are your favourite authors?

I have so many!  When I was a child I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder and C.S. Lewis.  I also loved Enid Blyton.  Now I think I can say my reading tastes are as wide ranging and of books I recently read I am particularly excited by Lola Shoneyin, Gillian Flynn, Chris Riddell and (I know I am rather late to her) Donna Tartt.  The Secret History is as good as everyone says it is!

What would you have been if you weren’t a publisher?

If I weren’t a publisher I am not at all sure that there is anything else I could do. It seems such a natural fit for me. I don’t really have a ‘job’. Rather I have a great life surrounded by books and working with the authors who breathe life into all those stories that start with germs of ideas.